October 30, 1942

Rosie’s immediate response

October 30, 1942

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Coljee,

I was only able to post a letter to you yesterday thanks to the kind mediation of a very well-informed individual. We have not been allowed to send mail here for a week. I now hasten to respond immediately to the letters I received from you and your wife. While I was grateful to receive them, I was also saddened, because what I had feared has turned out to be true.

In the meantime, my mother has recovered and is no longer in the infirmary. I, on the other hand, developed a huge boil on my forehead a few days ago, half under my hair, which resulted in a sort of infection. My face was terribly swollen and my temperature reached 39.4. I’m feeling a little better now and have been working a couple of hours a day. I can’t sit around idle, nor do I want to. The fever is almost gone and my face is less swollen. But I’m still wearing a silly bandage around my head that resembles a turban.

I am very glad that you didn’t get into trouble on our account and am virtually certain you will not have to face anything of the sort. In the first instance because you were unaware of the truth, and secondly because as private secretary to the Sicherheitspolizei in Westerbork, I was immediately able to arrange for Mr. van Meteren to be arrested in one of the coming days. He will almost certainly be transferred to the concentration camp at Amersfoort.

In spite of the fact that I am a prisoner here, I am still proud of the fact that I remain honest and have behaved honestly, and that people like Mr. van Meteren will receive their just rewards for abusing our weak situation. One thing is certain: while I was unable and even unwilling to believe it, you and my mother were convinced, if I am not mistaken, that something was amiss from the outset.

On the day we learned that my father was in Westerbork, Mr. van Meteren received 375 guilders from my mother, 300 of which was to be handed over to my father and 75 was to cover his travel and accommodation costs. When Mr. van Meteren returned on the Wednesday evening we were already in the hands of the police and we both knew well enough that money would not help us. He told us there, in the midst of all our misery and woe, that father was already in transit to Poland. Nothing further was said about the money. In my mind I thought he might use the money to send provisions and so forth if I was away, so I decided to let him hold on to it. At the time we had no idea what was going to happen to us. So all that talk about using his own money is nonsense and shamefaced fantasy. I have already handed matters over to the Sicherheitspolizei, for whom I work day and night. I am determined to have my way and see this scoundrel punished, and seriously so. He has never spent a cent on my behalf, but my mother and I currently have a claim against him of more than 1,000 guilders, which he most likely squandered on all sorts of young ladies of ill repute. I never at any time granted Mr. van Meteren power of attorney over our property and his claims to this effect are pure deception. Never, never, and again never give him anything that belongs to me or my mother. To do so would be nothing less than a crime. We trust you in this matter and no one else. Your response to his demands was perfect, but please do not think for a minute that anything of mine, no matter how worthless, belongs to him. If you were to concede to his demands I would be forced to warn the police, in spite of the difficulties this would bring.

When it comes to SS headquarters in Amsterdam he should watch his step. It’s not a threat, but if he’s not careful he’ll be getting an inside view of the place before long, if he’s not already there of course. He’s wanted for intimidation and fraud. It could be worse, but we all seem to agree that this was the only way forward.

Let me repeat: neither me, nor my mother and father, are required to go to Poland and we’re staying here. So we can stay in regular contact with each other from Westerbork and that means a great deal.

My confessor in Vught sent me a beautiful prayer book and an extremely kind letter. I have complete faith in what the future will bring, pray a lot, and am absolutely convinced that I’ll return from here, get back to my work, and see you all again just as I left you. With the exception of Mr. van Meteren. While I don’t expect to see him again, I no longer include him among the people I once knew, let alone loved. It would be better not to send Mr. van Meteren any more messages. Please don’t forget: you must hand over nothing to Mr. van Meteren, otherwise police involvement will be unavoidable and immediate. This is not an empty threat, but something I can completely confirm via my activities here. Mr. van Meteren has nothing of mine in his possession except a series of private photos and a few picture frames. I insist on recovering these from him. He kept them in the left-hand cupboard of his desk downstairs. Would you please send them to me by return?

We received the last two parcels, for which we are immensely grateful. Please wrap everything up securely. It’s been raining so much of late and everything tends to get mixed together. If it gets damp it can no longer be used I’m afraid.

I didn’t see or speak to Mr. van Meteren in Amsterdam. Another of his infamous lies. It goes without saying therefore that I didn’t give him power of attorney. Pure fantasy! Please do not believe him. He was never in Amsterdam and he was never in Westerbork. I’ve written to Miss Elisabeth to warn her, but I haven’t received a sign of life from her either.

I warn you, Mrs. Coljee, if you dare hand over anything of my property to him, I’ll involve the police and I mean it. I’m so grateful for everything you have done and are still doing to take care of us. But since my mother and myself have already fallen victim to his flagrant scams then I’m sure you will understand my threats and my assurance that I will carry them out in order to prevent you too from falling victim to his wicked character and nature. Once again, please leave my things, including my fur coat etc., where they are. If I need something I will write to you. Mr. van Meteren was never in Westerbork and never delivered a suitcase. I’m here and I’m staying here. Do you need more plausible and more tangible evidence than that?

A visit is more or less out of the question at the moment since you won’t be allowed into the camp and I’m not allowed out. In a while, when everything settles down, I can discuss the matter with my boss. The chances that we’ll see each other again somewhere are pretty good. My boss is exceptionally kind, and decidedly vexed by the entire situation.

Let me conclude, Mrs. Coljee, by wishing you and your husband much love. My parents also send their best regards and I hope to hear from you soon, if possible, with a parcel. If you send clothing, please pack it separately from any foodstuffs and use sturdy boxes. Everything gets opened here and the wet weather can make a terrible mess.

Your Lya
Rosie

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